Rare Earth Materials

At present almost all Rare Earth Materials production comes from China, with Chinese output accounting for approximately 95% of global production. Rare Earth Materials is a term commonly used to describe the 15 chemically similar, lanthanide elements which appear together towards the bottom of the Periodic Table. Two other elements, yttrium and scandium, which have similar chemical properties, are often also referred to as rare earths. Rare earths can be divided into “light” rare earths and “heavy” rare earths and both are present to varying degrees in all rare earth deposits. Rare earths are therefore recovered and processed together before sequential separation into individual rare earth elements. Prices for individual rare earths in pure oxide form can vary significantly with, generally speaking, the heavy rare earths trading at higher values. It should be noted the highest value heavy rare earth elements, namely europium, terbium and dysprosium, are contained at elevated levels at Zandkopsdrift by comparison to a number of other similar deposits being evaluated globally. It is also noteworthy that both the thorium and uranium content of the Zandkopsdrift resource are relatively low, at average grades of 178ppm and 47ppm respectively.
The oxides produced from processing rare earths are collectively referred to as rare earth oxides. Although rare earths are relatively common in the earth’s crust, they often do not occur in high enough concentrations (or occur along with high levels of radioactive elements) to make their extraction economic. The oxides that are produced from processing the rare earth elements constitute the basic material that can be sold to the market or further processed into metals or alloys.



Rare Earth Metals



Lanthanum Scandium Terbium Thulium
Cerium Samarium Dysprosium Ytterbium
Praseodymium Europium Holmium Lutetium
Neodymium Gadolinium Erbium Yttrium

   Rare Earth Metals



Rare Earth Applications



The uses of rare earth elements in terms of economic value are shown below. The two principal applications of magnets and phosphors accounted for 70% of the value while accounting for just 30% of rare earth element output. The major rare earth mineral application categories are magnets, phosphors and luminescence, metal alloy/batteries, catalysts and glass and polishing and ceramics are shown below.

 Rare Earth Applications                   Magnets       Phosphors   Metal Alloys   Catalysts       Ceramics       Polishing         Other             Glass